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HONOLULU (July 15, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---The governments of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, in association with the Honolulu-based Pacific Basin Development Council, are conducting a census of Micronesian migrants living in Hawaii.

The goal of the first-time project, funded by the Office of Insular Affairs in Washington and utilizing the expertise of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, is to determine the total number of Micronesians now in Hawaii and their impact on the state's economy and services.

Field work will conclude by the end of the month and, according to Washington census official Michael Levin, a complete report will be prepared for presentation to the U.S. Congress on December 1.

Citizens of the three Pacific nations, as a result of separate U.S. Compacts of Free Association, are permitted to live and work in Hawaii without restriction. There is growing concern, however, on the part of some U.S. and Hawaii government representatives, that unrestricted entry by citizens of the three Freely Associated States to the U.S. and its territories may be adversely impacting housing, jobs, schools, and medical services. At the same time, Micronesians also are believed to be contributing positively to Hawaii's economy. The goal of the census is to obtain hard facts.

Jerry Norris, Executive Director of the Pacific Basin Development Council, says Congress is responsible for reimbursing Hawaii and other areas for any adverse impact of the compacts. The current census of Micronesian migrants, he adds, will determine if Hawaii is eligible for additional federal funding.

Norris also points out that Hawaii is likely to see an increase in Micronesian migrants as U.S. financial support for Micronesian countries decreases and government jobs in the North Pacific area are eliminated.

The current 15-year compact fiscal arrangements with the FSM and the Marshall Islands terminate in 2001, and with Palau in 2011. US negotiations regarding compact renewal with the FSM and Marshalls will not begin until 1999.

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